Nathan Brown's NRL axing odds shorten

As if Dragons coach Nathan Brown wasn't already anxious enough.

The odds of Brown being the first NRL axed in 2008 have shortened dramatically following St George Illawarra's woeful season-opening defeat.

Brown went from $3.50 to $2.50 with Sportingbet Australia after the Dragons' 24-16 loss to a Wests Tigers outfit which lost playmaker Benji Marshall (knee) early.

The off contract Brown was already looking over his shoulder after it was revealed Dragons boss Peter Doust was drawing up a list of available coaches for next season.

Desperate for a successful start to the NRL season, the Dragons were slain by an understrength Wests Tigers - an effort Brown described as "disgraceful".

Sportingbet Australia has the Bulldogs' Steve Folkes next at $3.25 with Penrith's Matthew Elliott the big mover at $5.50 with outgoing North Queensland coach Graham Murray.

"But I'd say the money will come for Brown. It wouldn't surprise me if he continues to shorten up," Sportingbet Australia's Bill Richmond said.

"The Dragons were terrible. If you can't get your side to lift for round one it is probably going to be a bit of a battle from then on."

Folkes is under pressure after the Bulldogs led 20-0 at halftime yet still fell to Parramatta 28-20 in their season opener.

Panthers coach Elliott shortened from $13 to $5.50 following the 2007 wooden spooner's 48-12 first round loss at Brisbane.

"You can't win games in rugby league without halves," Richmond said of Penrith's plight.

"Elliott at least has a coaching record. Brown has only ever been at the Dragons - he's got to be favourite (to be axed first)."

Murray's Cowboys are one of the early premiership favourites.

However, Richmond said Murray was at $5.50 because of his unusual position.

Murray has been told his contract will not be renewed in 2009 and his assistant Ian Millward is tipped to take over.

"Millward is shortening to be their coach and is already there as assistant," Richmond said.

"If they had a bad run you've got the bloke (Millward) there already so why wouldn't you go with him now - that's the reason Murray is in the market."

Sportingbet Australia also has Newcastle's Brian Smith at $9 despite the Knights winning their first round match against Canberra.

NRL FIRST COACH TO GO COMPLETE MARKET

Nathan Brown (St George Illawarra) $2.50

Steve Folkes (Bulldogs) $3.25

Matthew Elliott (Penrith) $5.50

Graham Murray (North Queensland) $5.50

Brian Smith (Newcastle) $9

Neil Henry (Canberra) $15

Wayne Bennett (Brisbane) $17

Ivan Cleary (New Zealand Warriors) $34

John Cartwright (Gold Coast) $34

Tim Sheens (Wests Tigers) $34

Ricky Stuart (Cronulla) $34

Brad Fittler (Sydney Roosters) $34

Jason Taylor (South Sydney) $51

Des Hasler (Manly) $51

Michael Hagan (Parramatta) $61

Craig Bellamy (Melbourne) $61

All coaches to remain in current positions for round 26 $4.50

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